President Bush opened an event scheduled for him to comment on the release of a presidential commission report on intelligence gathering with a statement of condolence.
"Today, millions of Americans are saddened by the death of Terri Schiavo," he said. "Laura and I extend our condolences to Terri Schiavo's families. I appreciate the example of grace and dignity they have displayed at a difficult time. I urge all those who honor Terri Schiavo to continue to work to build a culture of life."
The president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who had sought to have the state's department of social services take custody of Terri Schiavo away from her husband, also said he hoped the woman's life would spur change in how the nation deals with such cases.
"After an extraordinarily difficult and tragic journey, Terri Schiavo is at rest," he said. "I remain convinced, however, that Terri's death is a window through which we can see the many issues left unresolved in our families and in our society. For that, we can be thankful for all that the life of Terri Schiavo has taught us."
Though the most vocal demonstrators and politicians drawn to the case wanted the government and the courts to get involved, polls have found that most Americans felt that the courts were right to leave the decision in the hands of Michael Schiavo.
Theresa Marie Schindler was born Dec. 3, 1963, into a Roman Catholic household in the comfortable, middle-class Philadelphia suburb of Huntingdon Valley. The oldest of three children, she grew to be a shy, quiet girl who kept a menagerie of stuffed animals in her bedroom.
Though she was heavy as a teenager, Terri lost a significant amount of weight before entering Bucks County Community College in 1981. It was there she met Michael Schiavo, her first boyfriend.
The pair married in 1984 in a wedding with some 300 attendees. Two years later, they moved to St. Petersburg, Fla., and lived in a condominium owned by the Schinders.
Though the Schiavos' relationship was described by some as agreeable, there were conflicting reports that portrayed the couple as argumentative and unhappy.
There were also unconfirmed reports that Terri continued to struggle with her weight, suffered from an eating disorder and had menstrual problems. The Schiavos had no children.
On Feb. 25, 1990, Terri suffered heart failure that might have been the result of a potassium imbalance associated with an eating disorder. She entered PVS shortly thereafter, and her condition remained unchanged until her death.